Neusiedler See (Lake Fertö) is an extensive cross-border lake, shared by Austria and Hungary. It is the largest salt lake in Europe, with carbonates and sulphates originating from underground water which reaches the surface through fissures in the rock. Halophytic vegetation and a reed belt (Phragmites communis), are of high conservation importance. The lake is also designated as a Ramsar site since it represents an extremely important staging area for migratory waterfowls. The lake is bordered by mountains (the spurs of the Eastern Alps, the Ruster Höhenzug in the west, and the Leithagebirge in the north-west) and opens to the Lesser Hungarian lowland in the east and south. Due to the fine lake sediments, the shallowness and the wind exposition of the lake, the water is characterized by high turbidity. The water level is fluctuating due to high levels of evaporation rates in summer. Infrastructure developments infringe some parts of the lakeshore.
Designation date: 1977
Administrative authorities: Provincial Government Burgenland
Surface area (terrestrial and marine):
Initially, dense oak forests covered the region around Neusiedler See, except for the extremely dry or salty locations. Human settlement brought with it forest clearances.
The regulation of water levels made it possible to use the pastures more intensively and to mow the hay meadows. Today the landscape consists of a patchwork of habitats. A reed belt that can be up to 5 km wide surrounds the shallow lake. Towards the east it is followed by treeless saline soil with flat pans called “Lacken” that dry up occasionally.
The Hanság (fen), originally an extended lowland moor and alder marshland, has been drained and turned into an area of moist meadows.
The biosphere reserve Neusiedler See consists only of the lake area with its reed belt and it is the bird life that benefits the most from the reed belt. Colonies of Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Grey heron and Spoonbill are growing up there and thousands of reed singing birds, e.g. Moustached Warbler, Bearded Tit, are nesting. Among the main species of aquatic birds in the reed are water hens and the rare Ferruginous Duck. The Marsh Harrier, the most common raptor, breeds among the reeds.
Within the framework of the biosphere reserve no educational activities are taking place. The administration of the national park however has numerous guided tours, adventure days, and nature events on offer.
Last update: January 2014Back to top